This post continues my interview with Jackie Appeldorn, General Manager of Mohonk Mountain House, a family owned resort and historic property in New Paltz, NY. Mohonk is known for outstanding guest service, and I can personally attest to its warm and welcoming hospitality. My husband and I have enjoyed staying at Mohonk for the past several years and plan to continue our annual visits there.
QSM: Jackie, in our previous interview you described employee involvement in perpetuating a guest service culture. Please share one of your favorite Mohonk stories of employee-customer care.
Jackie: Earlier, I referred to a quarterly publication titled Mohonk Bits that is produced by employees for employees. One of the regular features of the publication singles out an employee who provided exemplary service. (We provide a $50 award to the individual who is singled out in the article.) Rather than repeat the story in my words, I’ll share the entire article from our current issue. It not only provides a wonderful example of one of our employees taking the initiative to “Save the Situation” (one of our 14 Service Steps), it also offers some insight into the way our employees view one another and what we do here. The individual cited here for exemplary service is a Mohonk valet.
About Legendary Service
by Alex Sherwood, Mohonk Director of Recreation
It was a Saturday in late November and I had pulled the MOD [Manager on Duty] card. Prepared with a fresh from the cleaner’s shirt, tie, and awesome staff, I was ready to take on the day. The shift had started smoothly, and the Mohonk operation was up and running like a well-oiled machine. Guests were having a great time, and staff were meeting or exceeding their expectations … then I received the call from Guests Services!
“93, Manager on Duty? Could you please call Guest Services?”
With cat-like reflexes, like all our MODs, I was already dialing the 2015 extension before the radio transmission was complete. What I heard on the other end was a fellow employee putting into motion the action team we have in place to take care of challenging situations, and by the tone of this request a challenge this was going to be.
As I gathered what information I could, I armed myself with the LEARN defense system [“Listen – Empathize – Apologize – Resolve – And Never prove a guest wrong”] and made my way to Guests Services, where I was told the guest needing assistance would be. The background to this point was there were two Fed Ex packages which this guest had shipped out the day prior that had not been delivered to their respective parties. As I arrived to the desk, there stood a guest, who by her body language was easy to identify as the earlier mentioned challenge. Immediately this person turned and, with a small chuckle, remarked: “Looks like you’re the one they sent to take care of this… good luck!”
As soon as this guest had been turned over to me, you could quickly see many others scattering for something else to do, as the guest explained how, upon arrival the day before, she had dropped two Next Day Fed Ex packages at Guest Services to be delivered that morning, and according to her, one of these recipients had called to inform her the package had not arrived. This guest had come to Guest Services to find that both packages were indeed still in our possession. It quickly was apparent that why this happened was of little importance; what we were going to do to fix it was all that mattered.
Through a little further conversation this guest revealed the contents of the first package contained New York Knicks tickets for Saturday’s game which tipped off at 1:05 pm. It was now 12:15 pm, and I was pretty sure I was doomed on this one and prepared myself for the guest’s whipping. As the sense of defeat overwhelmed me, in walked David Kelso from Guest Services, with his hand raised in the air to get my attention.
What follows may be one of the all-time greatest “Save the Situations” ever conceived. Dave pulled me aside and informed me that he had taken it upon himself to open the package, retrieve the two game tickets, place a call to Madison Square Garden’s ticket office, introduce himself, and explain the situation he was trying to resolve. He then faxed copies of the tickets to the ticket office and received confirmation the tickets could now be redeemed by the person who was to receive the tickets in the first place.
Armed with this bit of information I was able to inform the guest that a resolution to the first part of the problem had been found. In disbelief the guest questioned, “How could this be?” I explained to her what David had done and said she could inform her client they could still make the 1:05 tip off. With a phone call, the client was on the way to the game. David’s fast thinking and willingness to create a solution to the problem turned a complete loss around to a positive resolution ... which may be talked about for many years to come. It was amazing to have a staff member who was willing to assist in resolving the challenge.
Great job, Dave!
QSM: Thank you, Jackie, for your time in sharing a bit of what makes Mohonk such an exceptional place. I look forward to seeing you and your wonderful staff on my next visit!